No race win but McLaughlin takes points battle
HE didn’t win but Scott McLaughlin heads to Bathurst happy and confident after increaseing his lead over Jamie Whincup in the Supercars title race at the Sandown 500.
McLaughlin, paired with Alex Premat through the Enduro series, couldn’t get close enough to race winners Cam Waters and Richie Stanaway yesterday. But the DJR Team Penske man sprayed champagne from the second step on the podium, and for the Kiwi, that was good enough.
“It was our main goal this weekend to come out and try to beat our championship contenders,” he said. “The best thing was to finish second and ahead of everyone else.
“It’s almost a win for me. We’ve come away from this weekend with a nice warm-up for Bathurst.”
McLaughlin entered the endurance races with a 12-point buffer over Jamie Whincup, competing in the endurance races with Paul Dumbrell.
Whincup’s tyre puncture dropped the six-time champ 84 points adrift.
McLaughlin’s Penske Falcon teammate Fabian Coulthard is third, a further 77 points back. There’s a new fourth, with Chaz Mostert’s podium lifting him above reigning champion Shane Van Gisbergen.
Mostert has strung together seven straight top-five finishes – answering the consistency questions that dogged him.
But does that mean the 2014 Bathurst champ is in the title race? “I don’t know,” the Ford man said. “This weekend even in the wet our car was really really quick.
“I was really shocked to be on the podium after going back to the pack (after a five-second penalty to co-driver Steve Owen) but we race cars hard and closed some gaps.
“At Bathurst, we’ve seen Jamie and Paul over the years have had the quickest car and if you don’t have luck on your side you don’t get it done.”